2019-02-19 10:00:00 CEST

In a league of their own

The dedication of the beach pro

Duda (left) and Agatha celebrate their World Tour Finals success in Hamburg last yearDuda (left) and Agatha celebrate their World Tour Finals success in Hamburg last year

Given the sport’s complexities, it’s fair to say beach volleyball players are in a league of their own when it comes to fitness – especially when you consider they do all of this exposed to elements out of their control.

Whether that’s alpine winds 1,000 meters above sea level in Gstaad, or the blistering courtside temperatures of 60 degrees that made the 2017 World Championships in Vienna a challenge, the beach elite are finding new ways to stay fit and keep themselves at the top of their game.

In a sport that has a demanding, and sometimes punishing schedule, where the margins between success and failure are as close as a grain of sand, keeping in shape is the number one priority.

For some of the Beach Volleyball Major Series’ most recognized players, that simply involves taking the time to work out – and all for one good reason: to avoid injury.

Ágatha Bednarczuk won Olympic silver in 2016. Last season she and teenage sensation Eduarda Santos Lisboa, more commonly known as Duda, took World Tour Finals gold back to Brazil with them. Their secret? Physiotherapy.

“We were in good shape because we did a lot of good work with our physio,” explains Ágatha, 35. “We would go two or three times a week. We’d go not because we were injured or we had pain, it was for our benefit and to prevent injuries from happening.

“In the off season we spent two weeks at a special place in Brazil and stayed there to train and eat right and practice a lot! We got some good sleep but we did everything we could so we could start the season fit and stay fit for the season ahead.”

Melissa 'The Smiling Assassin' Humana-Paredes (left) with teammate Sarah PavanMelissa 'The Smiling Assassin' Humana-Paredes (left) with teammate Sarah Pavan

For the majority of players, however, keeping in shape on the beach is a routine that takes in simple yet effective, tried and tested methods.

“There’s no secret,” says Melissa ‘The Smiling Assassin’ Humana-Paredes. The Canadian defender has enjoyed an excellent two seasons with teammate Sarah Pavan after a string of impressive performances, including the Gstaad Major title last year. “For me, it took a bit of time to return to peak fitness after the off-season but once you’re back into a rhythm and routine it’s just like riding a bike.

“For me the key is putting the work in during the off-season in the gym, running and training. It’s important to prepare right – any athlete will tell you that… but nothing can prepare you for the real thing of an actual game.”

It’s not rocket science but athletes’ determination to be the best and, importantly, to stay fit and on the top of their game, proves that there’s much more to the beach elite than just tossing some balls in the air on the sand and looking good in training.

So the next time you see them in action, don’t forget to remember the dedication and hard work they’ve put in during pre-season. That breathtaking dig you’ve just witnessed with your jaw still on the floor? Not possible without that unseen hard graft away from the Red Bull Beach Arena.

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